BC Government Review of Professional Reliance 
What is Professional Reliance?
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BC Government Review of Professional Reliance

Current Status

Throughout the summer, ABCFP senior staff and members of Council, along with the other five natural resource professional associations, are meeting with Ministry of Environment and Climate Change Strategy representatives to discuss the ministry’s desire to move forward with the first two recommendations contained in the report on its review of professional reliance in BC’s natural resource sector.

  1. A call for the government to establish an Office of Professional Regulation and Oversight independent of the natural resource sector ministries that currently oversee the five professional associations that are the focus of the review (R1 page 54);  and
  2. A recommendation for government to legislate critical elements of professional governance through umbrella legislation (R2 page 55).

The ABCFP believes these recommendations will have significant cost and operational implications for our association and our profession.

Related Documents

ABCFP Response to the Report on the Professional Reliance Review
ABCFP Stakeholder Submission to the BC Government’s Professional Reliance Review

Background
In October 2017, the BC government announced it was undertaking a review of professional reliance in the natural resource sector.

The government statement on the review said it would address questions around:

  • Whether government oversight of professional associations is adequate; and
  • Conditions governing the involvement of QPs in government’s resource management decisions and the appropriate level of government oversight to assure the public its interests are protected.

In the ensuing months, the ABCFP underwent a compliance audit consisting of an in-person interview with government representatives where ABCFP senior staff responded to 53 questions about the work of the profession, the functioning of the association, and the related regulatory regime in which professionals operate. The final audit report determined the ABCFP is in compliance with its legislation and is meeting its mandate.

In December 2017, the government undertook a survey of professionals working in the natural resource sector including forest professionals as well as inviting members of the public and interested stake holders to share their opinions about the state of professional reliance.

In June 2018, the government released the final report of the professional reliance review, written by lawyer Mark Haddock.

At more than 130 pages, the report contained 121 recommendations. You can find the full report along with a summary of the recommendations and list of stakeholder submissions (including the ABCFP’s) on the government’s Engage website.

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What is Professional Reliance?

Application of Professional Reliance
Examples of Professional Reliance
Professional Reliance in the News

Within forestry, professional reliance is the practice of accepting and relying upon the decisions and advice of forest professionals (Registered Professional Foresters and Registered Forest Technologists) who accept responsibility and can be held accountable for the decisions they make and the advice that they give.

Professional reliance rests on a framework in which:

  • forest professionals, having the required education, knowledge, expertise, and experience, apply their judgment and make decisions for which they are accountable to the public through the ABCFP;
  • respectful challenges to a forest professional’s decisions are accepted and can be addressed with a sound rationale;
  • the rights and obligations of forest professionals are respected and supported by employers, clients, and government; and
  • forest professionals follow existing legislation, regulation, and policy established by the government to guide management and protection of the forest and environment.

Supporting this framework is the requirement that forest professionals serve and protect the public interest. The exclusive rights of practice and title are privileges granted to forest professionals by the public who trust and expect that forest professionals will:

  • stay abreast of current science, research, theory; and
  • apply their expertise wisely as stewards of forests, forest lands, and forest ecosystems, to achieve both long and short-term sustainability of forests, forest lands and forest ecosystems.

A short video explaining professional reliance in the forestry sector.

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The Application of Professional Reliance

Professional reliance is commonplace in our society. We rely on the judgement and advice of our doctor when we have to address a health concern. Each time we drive over a bridge we are relying on the knowledge, expertise, and experience of an engineer. The added element to professional reliance is that while we rely on the work of the professional we can also hold them individually accountable for their work. The professional cannot switch jobs, move, or otherwise avoid accountability. This element means that professionals act independently from their employer’s interest and maintain their competence in a specific area of practice. Both independence and competence are hallmarks of professional reliance.

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Examples of Professional Reliance in Forestry

REPORT: Example of Professional Reliance at Work: Forest Stewardship Plan
A major development project for an area of forest land will be a concern for several forest resource rights holders (forest tenure holders, licensed trapper, recreation lease), regional recreation users, and a regional district government. The planning process is led by a forest professional working for the primary forest tenure holder and will involve the coordination of work by several forest professionals and other resource professionals, all of whom have different skill sets. The sharing of the information between professionals, the scheduling of the work, the implementation of the project, and monitoring of outcomes is essential to achieve the project goals.

REPORT: Example of Professional Reliance at Work: Peer Review
A forest professional prepares a forest harvesting prescription for an area. Prior to submitting the harvest prescription for implementation, the forest professional arranges for the prescription to be peer reviewed by another qualified professional.

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Professional Reliance in the News

January 5, 2018
SUBMISSION: ABCFP Stakeholder Submission to the BC Government’s Professional Reliance Review
As part of the government’s review of professional reliance, professional associations were invited to make formal submissions. The ABCFP submission contains information about the association, an outline of the professional reliance system and participants in the system, and a suite of recommendations for improvement.

November 10, 2017
LETTER: Joint Letter on Professional Reliance Review
On November 10th, 2017, a joint letter was sent to Jennifer McGuire, Assistant Deputy Minister, Ministry of Environment & Climate Change Strategy from several professional associations, including the Association of BC Forest Professionals, Engineers and Geoscientists of BC, the College of Applied Biology, the BC Institute of Agrologists, and the Applied Science Technologists and Technicians of BC. The associations offered to meet with the Ministry as a group to share insights and inform the professional reliance review.

October 10, 2017
NEWS ARTICLE: Column by Christine Gelowitz, RPF, ABCFP CEO, published in the Vancouver Sun: Bringing Public Confidence to BC's Forest Management.

October 3, 2017
NEWS RELEASE: Association of BC Forest Professionals Ready to Participate in Government Review of Professional Reliance.

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